The world’s most successful presenters and speakers wouldn’t be where they are now if not for their self-discipline. They could have chosen to go down another path and excel at some other field. But they chose to stick around and work their way to the top. If you want to be like them, then this article’s for you. In this post, I’ll share with you the very important role that self-discipline plays in successful presentations.
Why is self-discipline so important?
Imagine needing to present at a huge convention in 2 weeks’ time. You know you need to prepare for it, but you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s still a couple of weeks away. I’m a pro. I only need 2 days to work on my presentation.”
And so you procrastinate and put your presentation in the back burner. And then exactly 2 days before your presentation, you get a reminder on your calendar and you spring into action.
Now, you may or may not be an expert on your presentation’s topic. But in most cases, 2 days is simply not enough to put together a presentation.
You’d need to research and organize your content. Then you need to put everything on PowerPoint or Keynote or whatever your favorite presentation app is. Then you’d need to practice your speech. You can, of course, wing it but what are the chances you’d actually succeed this way?
Preparation is key to a successful presentation. And you can’t go through the preparation stage without a healthy dose of self-discipline. There are far too many distractions and temptations that can come up at any given point in time. And without the will to say ‘no’, then you’d most likely never make it past the preparation stage.
That said, here are the top reasons why you should work on mastering self-discipline:
- It improves self-control
One of the biggest benefits of building self-discipline is that you’ll eventually get to the point where you can easily control yourself. On those days where you don’t feel like doing anything, your self-control will ultimately save you by forcing you to carry out what needs to be done.
It’s like having a different person give you a swift kick in your behind to get you to move and stop moping around! Now, we all have bad days. But those that are disciplined enough have the inner strength to somehow deny a ‘bad day’ from taking over.
- It helps you set your priorities straight
Work or play? These are the two options that most frequently go to war in our heads. Most will probably choose ‘play’ even if they know deep down they really, really need to go to work. But if you’re self-disciplined, you know which is the correct choice, work. And you’d choose it even if your body’s telling you to go play.
In the case of presentations that are still several weeks away, most will probably choose to procrastinate and play. But a disciplined presenter will get to work ASAP and not slack off until the presentation’s done. In short, they know exactly how to prioritize their tasks and their goals.
- You can manage your time better
With self-discipline, you’re not only able to schedule your tasks throughout the day, but you can also manage your time better. Time management is important when juggling so many tasks and mini-goals. And lacking discipline can truly put a damper on your progress.
When planning your day, week, or month, always be realistic. Try to aim for work-life balance. Just because you’ve got a presentation coming up doesn’t mean you should be ignoring your personal or your family’s needs. Stick to a schedule that won’t destroy your relationship with others.
- Self and career growth
When you continuously push yourself to do greater things, you’re bound to see some growth. Now, compare those who don’t have the discipline to go after their dreams – are they anywhere near where they want to be? Most likely not.
Unless, of course, they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. In which case, they most likely have a clear advantage over regular folks. However, the point is that self-discipline not only helps you improve yourself as a person, but also as a speaker and presenter.
How to improve your self-discipline to become a better presenter
Now that you know the benefits of mastering self-discipline, let’s go through the different ways you can improve it.
- Figure out your “why”
Why do you want to become a better and successful presenter? Who are you doing it for? Yourself? Are you doing it so you’ll have more speaking opportunities in the future? Are you doing it for fame, money, or what?
Take some time to pinpoint your “why.” And I mean, really take time. Brainstorm alone or with someone whose opinion you trust and respect.
Whatever your “why” is, print it out and put it somewhere you can see every day. Or put it in a graphic like one of those social media quotes. And use it as your computer or phone’s wallpaper or lock screen message.
Your “why” will motivate you to keep pushing and working, so you’ll get to where you want to be. The road to becoming a successful presenter is filled with challenges. You’ll need all the help you can get – and it all starts with knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Learn to say “no” to distractions
Oh, yes, distractions (a.k.a. temptations) are the number one destroyer of self-discipline. People who don’t have the willpower to say “no” ultimately ends up delaying – or altogether stopping – their success.
The word “no” looks like a simple 2-letter word, but it’s literally your gatekeeper to success. When you say “no” to distractions and temptations, you’re saying “yes” to your goals and your dreams.
The best way to make sure you know when to say “no” and when to say “yes” is to draw up a boundary. Stay within the boundary and you’re safe. The moment something or someone wants to take you outside your boundary, then you have to say “no.”
Think about this the next time you feel like binge-watching Netflix instead of doing research for your presentation. Start saying “no” to Netflix and “yes” to a well-prepared presentation.
- Visualize your goal and the steps you need to take to get you there
Humans are visual creatures. It’s easier for us to process information if it’s presented to us in a visual format. This is why visual aids exists. In presentations, you can use PowerPoint, Keynote, or any other presentation to app to create your visual aid. This way, it’s easier for your audience to understand what you’re saying.
When it comes to your goal of becoming a successful presenter, you can also use the same technique. Only this time, you’re visualizing your success in your head.
You have a mental picture of yourself giving a successful presentation. You can see your audience listening to you with rapt attention, and they’re hanging on to every word you say. At the end of your presentation, you can see them clapping their hands as a gesture of appreciation.
And don’t forget to also think about the steps you need to take to get there. Picture yourself hard at work writing your speech and designing your slides. Then imagine how happy you’ll feel once you’ve finished what you set out to do!
Try this technique today – you might be surprised at how well this works!
- Form positive habits
Habits – whether it be positive or negative – don’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes at least 2 months to form a new habit through repetition and consistency. This means doing that routine every single day until it becomes a habit.
In the beginning, you’d probably need to set up reminders so as not to forget to do your new task. Then sooner or later, you’ll realize you’re doing the task out of rote, that is, you’re no longer dependent on the reminder. This is when you’ll realize you’ve finally turned the new task into a habit.
Here’s a tip: anchor your new habit onto an existing habit. For instance, if you want to build a habit of journaling before bedtime, then how about you do it after you brush your teeth? This way, every time you brush your teeth, you’ll be reminded to bring out your journal so you can write down your thoughts, ideas and plans for the next day.
Now that you know it takes this long to form a new habit, you have to start thinking about the positive habits you want to acquire. And while you’re at it, think about the negative/bad habits you want to get rid of. This way, you’re essentially hitting two birds with one stone!
- Look at the big picture
Don’t just think about doing well on your next presentation. Instead, you should also think about how that one presentation is going to affect you in the future.
Will it lead to more speaking engagements? Perhaps it will lead to better job offers? Or maybe it will lead to new relationships with the movers and shakers in your industry?
The possibilities are truly endless! So, the next time you feel like slacking off, remember the big picture and let it motivate you to become better disciplined.
- Overcome procrastination
Procrastination is when you intentionally delay something important, knowing full well it will have negative consequences down the line. Now, we’ve all probably procrastinated at one time or another (hats off to you if you haven’t!).
Unfortunately, overcoming procrastination isn’t as easy as it sounds. You probably know how it feels like. Your brain says you have an important task to finish. But your heart says “No, let’s go do something fun and more enjoyable instead.”
That said, one of the best ways to finally say goodbye to procrastination is to always keep your “why” at the forefront of your mind. This is why I suggested earlier to make a visual representation of your “why” so you’ll always be reminded of it.
The right “why” can motivate you like no other. But if you choose the wrong “why”, that is, it doesn’t stop you at all from procrastinating or getting distracted by various things, then you obviously need to go back to the drawing board and figure out your true “why.”
- Be accountable to yourself and others
Being accountable to yourself is hard, but it’s doable. Especially if you are morally upright and won’t even entertain the idea of cheating on yourself. But self-accountability takes a lot of self-control and self-discipline.
When you’re still in the process of building self-discipline, it may be best to get someone else involved. This is being accountable to others. This could be your spouse, partner, parents, siblings, best friend, even your boss.
It can be anyone you trust and respect, someone who’ll egg you on and support you as you chase your dreams. They’ll be the voice of reason every time you have doubts about yourself and your abilities. They’ll literally and figuratively pick you up when you fall down.
Make sure, however, to stay away from the Debbie Downers in your life. They will NOT push you to become a better person. If you share your personal vision and goals with them, they’ll find a way to make you feel bad about it. They’ll discourage you instead of saying something positive to cheer you up and motivate you to keep fighting. Instead of helping you become accountable, they’ll play devil’s advocate and plant negative ideas in your head. So, stay away from them.
- Set milestones
You can’t build self-discipline with a single giant step. Instead, it takes several small steps, or baby steps, in the beginning. So, when setting milestones, break it down and try to make it as small and as easy-to-achieve as possible. Doing this makes the whole process so much more achievable and enjoyable.
Every time you tick something off your to-do list or milestone list, you feel happy and satisfied. And it motivates you to keep on going, to continue ticking off the items on your list. You’ll eventually come to the realization that the more milestones you achieve, the more disciplined you’ve become!
- Stop self-sabotage
I know it probably sounds unbelievable, but people do tend to self-sabotage. For instance, you know that by preparing for your presentation well in advance, you increase the chances of it being a successful presentation. But instead of preparing, you procrastinate and delay the inevitable as much as possible.
If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of success? Are you scared that you may not be able to handle the changes that usually comes with success? Or are you afraid your life – as you know it right now – is going to be essentially over?
The fear of success is probably just as common as the fear of failure. But if you work on your self-discipline, you can teach yourself to stop sabotaging your life. To stop self-sabotage, you have to acknowledge it first. And then you need to get to work on overcoming this destructive behavior!
- Reward yourself for a job well done
A job well done deserves a reward. As you already know, building discipline is hard work. So, every now and then, reward yourself for sticking to your guns and actually achieving your goals.
This is why setting milestones is important as well – every important milestone you’ve ticked off your list deserve a reward. It doesn’t have to be a trip to your favorite restaurant. A simple pat on the back or maybe a single episode on Netflix may suffice.
Leave the big reward for the big milestones – don’t go overboard with the rewarding part! Make the reward comparable with the level of effort that went into completing the milestone. But at the same time, don’t take small milestones for granted.
Knowing you’ve got a reward waiting for you at the end of a milestone is going to motivate you to go further. It will teach you a lesson in patience and perseverance. And while you’re at it, you’re also becoming a more disciplined person.
The role of self-discipline in successful presentations can’t be underestimated. It can, quite literally, make or break your presentation. Remember, building self-discipline takes a lot of time. You need to start planning your goals and your “why” today, and implement all the other tips I’ve suggested in this article. You’ll hopefully be a much better presenter a few months from now!